Santiago Jiménez, Sr., conjunto accordionist and songwriter, was born on April 25, 1913, in San Antonio. His father, Patricio Jiménez, was an accordionist and dance musician from Eagle Pass, Texas, and he encouraged his son to pursue his musical interests. By age eight Santiago had begun to play the accordion, and by the time he was twenty, he was playing music on live KEDA radio. In 1936 Jiménez released his first record, "Dices Pescao"/"Dispensa el Arrempujon," on Decca. The record was successful, and Jiménez became known for his inventive use of the tololoche, a Tejano contrabass that became prevalent in the conjunto music of the 1940s. Jiménez later recorded for Imperial, Globe, and Mexican Victor. His polkas "La Piedrera" and "Viva Seguin" (recorded in 1942) became well-known regional hits.
He was known for his use of the two-row button accordion even after new developments were made in accordion technology. His continued use of this increasingly old-fashioned instrument contributed to the traditionalist sound of his music in his later years. In the late 1960s Jiménez moved to Dallas and worked as a school janitor. He was one of the featured musicians in director Les Blank’s Chulas Fronteras (1976), a documentary film about Texas-Mexican conjunto and its role in the social and cultural life of Mexican-American families. Jiménez moved back to San Antonio in 1977 and started playing music again. He made some recordings with his son, Flaco, including Santiago Jimenez con Flaco Jimenez y Juan Viesca in 1980 for Arhoolie Records.
Jiménez died on December 18, 1984, in San Antonio. He was survived by his wife, Virginia, and six sons and two daughters. His sons Flaco and Santiago Jiménez, Jr., carried on the tradition of his conjunto music. Santiago Jiménez, Sr., was inducted into the Tejano Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003. See also TEXAS-MEXICAN CONJUNTO.